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PACE rapporteur: 36 states failing to heed judgments of the Court

11.09.2009 – A Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) rapporteur has expressed his “serious concern” that 36 of the 47 Council of Europe member states are now failing to fully implement within a reasonable time judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, which are supposed to be binding.

Implementing judgments normally means that the state concerned pays the victim the compensation directed by the Court, and changes its laws or practices to avoid a repetition of the violation.

Christos Pourgourides (Cyprus, EPP/CD), who regularly monitors this issue for the PACE, was presenting an updated list of outstanding judgments to the Assembly’s Legal Affairs Committee in Paris. The list used two standard criteria: judgments which had not been fully implemented five years after the Court had delivered them, or which revealed major structural problems.

“Until a few years back, [we] had to deal with such cases in a dozen or so countries,” Mr Pourgourides told the committee. “Now I am sad to say this situation has changed completely: there are today 36 member states who meet these criteria, which is a very bad trend and a matter of serious concern.”

Presenting a progress report, Mr Pourgourides said that as a result of this rise, he was now obliged to monitor a more limited list of judgments involving only the most serious human rights issues, such as deaths or ill-treatment by state agents.

All states who have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights are obliged to fully abide by the Court’s rulings. The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers – made up of the 47 Foreign Ministers of its member states – has the duty of ensuring that the Court’s judgments are fully implemented.